by Abigail CHILD
2011 / 16mm & Video / color-b&w / sound / 1S / 75' 00

A feature-length project about girlhood and the immigrant dream, focusing on post WWII North American suburbs and interwar Europe, critically seen through the lens of gender, property and myths of nation. - A rambunctious embrace, body to body, woman to woman, entrance to exist - in-laws foregrounding the construction of cinematic meaning, the elusive nature of memory and desire, the hysteric familial area of the social. The project is prismatic, in that each part explores a different perspective in terms of both cinematics and historical era.

CAKE AND STEAK, USA, 2004, 20 min. CAKE AND STEAK excavates ‘girl training’ in the legacy of home movies and post-war American suburban culture. Constructed as a series of achronological ‘chapters’ in which Edenic images of adolescent twirlers, basement parties, and ‘dress-up’ are challenged by a sound montage composed of horror movie music, old TV shows, laugh tracks, and machine noise of our modern Arcadias, CAKE AND STEAK is conceived for single-screen and loop projection.

THE FUTURE IS BEHIND YOU, USA, 2004, 21 min. A fictional story composed from an anonymous family archive of 1930s' Europe with two sisters who play, race, fight, kiss and grow up together under the shadow of oncoming history. There are at least 3 levels of research: 1) the home movie in which a family poses for the camera, preternaturally happy; 2) the historical moment which remains as text trace, undermining the image and serving as covert motive; 3) the development of gender identities - the innocent freedom of the elder transformed into socially bruised 'bride,' the irrepressibility of the younger moving from tomboy to awkward, diffident adult. At once biography & fiction, history & psychology, THE FUTURE IS BEHIND YOU excavates gestures to get at the heart of narrative; it seeks a bridge between private & public histories. Music by John Zorn, arranged and performed for the movie by Sylvie Courvoisier and Mark Feldman.

SURF AND TURF, USA, 2008-11, 25 min. Contemporary ambiguities on the Jersey shore: the look is secular, the lifestyle capitalist, the religion orthodox. 40,000 Syrian Jews have moved into a landscape previously occupied by Irish, Italian and the quite different sect of Ashkenazi Jews. The “unmelted pot” of America’s small towns is set within memory and contemporary oppositions. What does it mean to have class in America? What does it mean to be Jewish? I think of conflicts between Israel and Palestine, Serbia and Bosnia, India and Pakistan: neighboring families and races split apart by religion. Extreme poverty enforces the tribal, while extreme wealth maintains it. SURF AND TURF provides no easy answers but raises issues that have too long stayed behind closed doors: what do we say when we think no one is listening?


distribution format Digital file on server (SD)
screen 4/3 (single screen)
speed 29,976 fps
sound sound
rental fee 200,00 €